Photometry and Astrometry of Near-Earth Orbits using an optical telescope network

Subject: 

Using optical telescopes we can track, observe, and record the temporal changes over long and short term of Sun illuminated object in orbit, including out to and past geostationary orbits. Depending on the size of the object and its aspect to the Sun, the signal may fall below the noise inherent in the camera system and only through repeated observations can we identify the object and its welfare in terms of changes in its “signature”. Conducting these observations from closely sited and from multiple sites around the globe allows for more accurate determination of the object. The Falcon Telescope Network (FTN) is designed to enable research into such capability. Coupled with other similar sized telescopes at UNSW Canberra in addition to the node of the FTN hosted at UNSW Canberra, this project will investigate techniques such as these for Space Situational Awareness. A student might expect to utilise all telescopes in the network, and develop astrometry and photometry (lightcurves) for objects, including satellites to be operated by UNSW Canberra. This research will lead to better ground support for bespoke satellite operations as well as refined algorithms for object selection, prediction and observation.